Background: In some disciplines, a primary means of disseminating scientific results is publishing papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Often, the article is only available after peer-review and acceptance. If other researchers are unhappy with this already published paper, if they find errors, mistakes, problems with an analysis or interpretation, etc., the official way to address this is to write a so-called "letter to the editor" or "expression of concern." This is a short explanation of concerns that writers of that letter have about the paper. This letter will then be published, in the same journal, alongside the author's response. These letters are also peer-reviewed to filter out cranks, unjustified criticisms, or simple misunderstandings.
I think I already know how to review a paper, but how to review a letter to the editor that is raising concerns about a paper?
- Should I just say if I agree or disagree with the points made?
- Am I supposed to review the whole paper again, or just the letter?
- Can you suggest adding other issues I have with the paper to the letter, or am I supposed to just stick to the point?
- Any other tips or things to consider?
Ask the editor? I do not want to ask the editor what they want, for the same reason why I don't want to ask an editor what they want when every time I review a paper. These letters are common in many fields, and there is nothing special about this peer-review. Therefore, I expect there are general guidelines about how to approach this.